Blue moon no more: $200K NSX is a sign of the new normal

Bring a Trailer/Josh Bryan

It’s no secret 1990s Japanese sports cars have taken over the classic car market. We’ve covered it countless times, to the point that what was once exceptional has now become routine. Six-figure Supras? Yeah, two sold this week.

Still, this 2003 Acura NSX-T caught our attention. It just sold for $205,000, making it the first base (non Zanardi edition) NSX to sell above $200K and the second-highest sale of all time. We think it’s a bellwether of more $200K Japanese cars to come.

The NSX, has, like pretty much all Japanese sports cars of the 1990s and early 2000s, ridden a wave of appreciation in recent years. Unlike the Mazda RX-7 and Toyota Supra, however, it never really fell into used-car territory, meaning its value increases have historically lead those cars. So, when we saw a 1995 Supra leap ahead by selling for $206K three months ago, we figured it was only a matter of the "right" NSX hitting the market to hit the same mark.

This was the right car.

2003 Acura NSX-T interior dash gauges detail
Bring a Trailer/Josh Bryan

Like other high-dollar NSXs, this one was pristine. It had just 9300 miles, which would be considered unexceptional on other supercars (see: 2005–06 Ford GT) but stands out here since owners tend to treat their NSXs like, well, Hondas.

It's also a later-production model, which most collectors (flip-up headlamp partisans aside) tend to prefer. In 1997, Acura offered an optional 3.2-liter V-6 that increased power to 290 hp—an option nearly every buyer ticked. Acura also gave the NSX a six-speed manual, replacing the old five-speed unit, thereby addressing complaints about the long-gearing in earlier cars. The new powertrain dropped the 0-to-60 mph time to below 5 seconds. Since sales had steeply declined by the time of these updates, most NSXs don't have these bragging points.

This NSX also had going for it all the factors that drive big premiums on Bring a Trailer—killer photos, a serial seller with a good reputation, and a firestorm of commenters.

Still, there have been several low-mile late-model NSXs sold in the past years and none have brought close to this amount. In fact a one-owner, 16K-mile 2004 NSX 3.2 sold for $180K—a record at the time. What made this one finally break $200K?

I think it was the color.

When a car becomes incredibly desirable but isn't particularly rare, collectors start to look for things that make their car stand out. When unusual equipment isn't an option, color combinations are what people go for.

The blue-over-blue combo is striking and very uncommon. Only 88 were sold in the United States in Long Beach Blue Pearl—a color only offered in the final four years of production (2002–2005). Only 33 of those had the blue leather interior to match. And only 4 were produced in this color combo for 2003. While not the rarest exterior/interior matching color combo—14 Rio Yellow-over-yellow and nine Grand Prix White over white—blue over blue makes for a good conversation starter. So, of course, does that price.

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